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November 23, 2011
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'Dam California' | Local producers test-screen Sundance-bound film

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Who hasn’t wanted to play the role of film critic? Well, thanks to Squaw Valley Institute’s test-screening at Resort at Squaw Creek of “Dam California” Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m., you’ll have the opportunity. In fact, your feedback will be solicited and, perhaps, have an impact on the final cut of this feature-length film created and produced by a team of talented Tahoe-based filmmakers. The film itself, which has been filmed in locations from Reno, Nev. to Lake Tahoe to Paso Robles, Calif., chronicles the fictional story of Iraqi veteran Michael Rodriguez. Rodriguez comes home from two tours of combat duty to find his hometown on the brink of self-destruction. A corrupt politician has sold out his small farming town to an evil corporation controlling most of the county and the state’s water. The starving community is collapsing, while the corporation buys up the land of the failing farmers with plans to dam up the valley in which the town rests. Another character, Dr. Meghan Connors, played by Sarah Poynter of Truckee, plays a pivotal role in battling the corporate power structure’s nefarious goals.While the film is a fictional account, and takes no political stance, it does address California water issues with an emphasis on the contentious political, environmental and agricultural war. Ultimately, the director and producers point out, the film is about the characters, placed in poignant, highly-charged circumstances. While major films have been shot at Lake Tahoe, rarely has a feature-length film had such abundant local ties. A young filmmaker with more than 150 shorts to his name, Isaac Pich, the writer/director, grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, and has lived in North Lake Tahoe for four years. The executive producer, Lori Graf-Campusano has lived in Carnelian Bay and Truckee for 18 years and Steve Mitchell, producer/cinematographer lives in Squaw Valley and has been a Lake Tahoe resident for 28 years. To Reno and Tahoe locals, many faces will be familiar. Local actors include Sarah Poynter, Teri Levy, Grant Davis, Steven Segal, Rick Partain, Michelle Campusano, Kimi Grosjean, Jef Derderian, Dave Anderson, Jim DeZerga, Joseph Paslov, Jeff Bently, Chris Salas, Brian Ault, Ed Scott, Alan Heoney, Bill Jensen, Scott Reeves, David Roberts, Charlene Bennett, Tina Hsu Schweizer, Cody Herbst and Wes Herbst.Alan Heoney, local realtor who played the senator in the movie said, “I knew stepping on to the ‘Dam California’ film set for the first time would be interesting and a bit challenging, but seeing the passion and focus the director, producer, cameraman and crew brought to the forefront of this project immediately sent me a message … lose the nervousness, follow direction and step into the role. I respond to a ‘common vision’ and to be involved with such talented people who have written and are now bringing to reality such a salient California issue through dramatic filmmaking was absolutely enjoyable and personally rewarding.”“It should be an entertaining and educational evening for the filmmakers as well as the audience,” said producer Steve Mitchell. The producers, director and several actors will be on hand for Qandamp; A after the film, and audience members will be asked to fill out a short survey about the movie.“We expect the audience to view our movie and give us their honest feedback on what they thought,” said executive producer Lori Graf-Campusano. Admission to the event is free, but space is limited. Donations to Squaw Valley Institute will be accepted. To RSVP or for more information visit www.squawvalleyinstitute.org or call 530-581-4138.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 23, 2011 05:00PM Published Nov 23, 2011 04:52PM Copyright 2011 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.